Friday, December 30, 2011

TGIF heading into the New Year!

12-30-11 productive brain

Wednesday, I started cleaning and I begun with my bedroom night stand- stacked full of books. I hadn’t planned to continue in the bedroom, but I ended up cleaning my dresser off, and two big baskets of books and stuff, along with a thorough dusting in all corners and under the bed.  I filled 3 large kitchen sized wastebaskets of recycling….. I don’t understand why I collect so much paper and magazines. I found my red scarf I have been looking for and a few other odds and ends. I found 4 different journals in which I had started a Gratitude Journal, all 4 from different years and at various stages of completion.

I picked one which only had a few pages used, and decided to start again.

Thursday, I was MOST grateful for the warm 50 degree weather and sunshine. (We haven't had this warm of Christmas since 2002, when I was able to go rollerblading and broke my elbow).... This warm weather allowed me to stay motivated to get more cleaning done. My dinning room table is now cleared off for the first time in months. The kitchen is back in order.... and I delivered my painting for the January Art Show at Westminster…. But first I wanted to see how it will look over the fireplace. I like it! I can’t wait to work on another pixel piece of artwork- small one though.

I also went to the bank and opened up an accounted designated for my art, in hopes that the coming year I will get more involved with a few art shows and try to sell some art on the Internet.

There is still several closets left to clean in 2012…. And the basement….and the need for several trips to Good Will...... but for now- I have to appreciate all that I did get accomplished on my two days off work. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Report

12-29-11 cleaning brain
Greg and I got back into Des Moines Tuesday afternoon from our Christmas break up at Mom & Dad's. We unpacked, went out to eat, and saw a movie (The Descendants). Wednesday, Greg headed back to KC and my plans for the next few days were to use my time off work to do some deep cleaning of excess crap I have collected over the years.

I did start Wednesday afternoon, after I rewarded myself (in advance).... by have a leisurely lunch with Kelley. We hung out at Grounds of Celebration for about two hours. I'm happy to report that some of my Peace Art has sold there. 5 Peaces total so far.

Today, as I continue cleaning, I'll just post some of our Christmas pictures. I must also note that the weather in Iowa has been mild (40's and 50's) which made for some good travel weather, but it really didn't feel like Christmas without snow on the ground.

We started out on DEC 23nd, celebrating Sarah's 24th Birthday.

Christmas morning..... I had to share my peace outfit which was a gift given to me by Vivian and Clyde... so I got to be the Christmas Peace Elf and handed out the presents this year.
Hey, not bad for age 56! ?

  Dad had a special gift, I made him open first.

 Ann had taken his Marine picture and photo-shopped a flag in the background.
 Dad happily hung this up in his office later that day. 

Greg and I cooked the eggs and sausage for Christmas breakfast.... and we turned the kitchen over the Christopher and he was in charge of cooking and cutting the turkey later in the day.

 We all over ate.... why do we do that?

Since we couldn't go sledding this year-..... we went bowling the day after Christmas. Hunt scored the highest with the two games combined. Greg bowled 170 on his second game..... Sarah and I had more gutter balls than we care to admit.... but my first game was my best at 92, and I did have ONE strike. 

This picture cracks me up. I call it "watching Sarah bowl"

Monday we started the day off with the number one task to complete- trying to get a decent family picture!
The picture in the middle here is my favorite, since we actually got Jan to smile..... she hates getting her picture taken.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday GUEST Blog

12-28-11 vacationing brain....
BUT Ann is not on vacation! ~Judy

Keepin’ the Flame Lit

Time to close out 2011 and for many, there are a lot of great memories and a few sad one. No matter how much I try, at times I find myself incredibly sad. So projects, road tripping and running around with friends have helped immensely.

On the upside, I’ve accomplished a lot. Mended fences with my sister, glad to see my siblings watching after each other, got to see my beautiful niece Sunita and her adorable son, Gabriel. I remember flying home mid-March 1980 to be there for her birth, only to miss it by a week. Love you Sunita and Gabriel, you too Amanda and Eric! I made this doll for Sunita back in 1985.

My road trip to Toronto via NYC-Hartford- PA was so much fun and I got to see singer Michael Franti. And the best concert of all time, Maroon 5 and Train at the Iowa State Fair, seeing Janet Jackson was pretty neat too.

After saying goodbye to Dad, I said I would purchase a bench for him at the Fair. Well I finally got around to purchasing  the bench. For $1,200, you get a new wooden bench with a nameplate. We’re finalizing the nameplate, but it will looking like this and say something like this

In Memory of our Dad 
Matthew Chee You, 1931-2011
Love and miss you Dad
Tony, Sandra, Glen, Charmaine

Instead of seeing the glass half empty, I’ll see it half full and will be looking forward to the construction of the bench (June ’12). I’ll call it a living memorial to Dad, where I can go anytime I want to. When the ’12 Fair rolls around, you will find me there almost daily. I will look forward to a few road trips, maybe out West to San Francisco, Treasure Island (FLA), see the Lake house in Maryland, backpacking (via train) in Europe and maybe … just maybe …. A trip to Trinidad to return my Dad to his beloved home. 

And can’t forget the race to the White House. No doubt I will be caucusing on January 3rd and if my candidate does not win the nomination, hopefully I’ll be as egg-cited to support the GOP nominee.  

Have a great New Year everyone, if you enjoyed my posts and want to see more, drop us a line (Judy or me). 
Chat Later
That Girl, Ann Marie

Friday, December 23, 2011


12-23-11 happy brain

God willing and the creek don't rise- my family will all be meeting up in northern Iowa later today. Of course Christmas will be on our minds and hearts.... BUT FIRST we will be celebrating Sarah's 24th birthday this evening.

Last year we also all got to be together. These are pictures from then- Sarah wanted a Hawk-eye cake. This year I'm not sure what is planned. Grandma Jean is in charge of the cake, Jan is suppose to be cooking dinner.

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

This and That Thursday


Yea! It’s winter solstice day and I’ve reached the “valley” of the year (the low point) … now I can look forward to the daylight starting to get longer. It’s a psychological marker for me and I now know that the earth will be working its way back towards spring.... and that makes me happy. 
(Also Happy Anniversary to Jean and John)

Yes, its been a busy week… but then it has been a busy year full of busy weeks-
Monday evening for a few hours I was at the neighbor Stacey’s house. She hosted a Caroling Party for our street. The usual jolly group attended this year and we had so much fun singing while Steve played piano and Marilyn play her banjo.

Tuesday I finished my big church art project which is due January. So happy to finish a bit ahead of schedule and I don’t have to worry about it next week while on Christmas break. See write up below.

Wednesday evening Sue suggested we go to the Drake basketball game....  Since the students are gone on break, they have “buck night”. We met up with Ann and Carolyn at Haiku for appetizers and by the time we were done there, we lacked the interest in the game and just went over to Sue’s house for awhile.  I should have been home trying to get the house put back in order, but without a refrigerator until sometime Friday- the kitchen will remain chaotic. Greg comes in town today, so he’ll be around to help when the delivery comes.

I believe I’m all ready for Christmas weekend up north and that everything is all organized in a pile to load into the car.

Next week I’m off work and hoping I can stay motivated to do some cleaning out of old stuff, to make room for new opportunities in 2012.

Westminster Fine Arts 2012
will have open house for this exhibit Jan. 15th at 4:00PM- come check me out.

Epiphany- my soul’s sunrise” 
  by Judy Sebern Beachy
(Acrylic pixel art 4 x 3.5 ft)

The divide between body & spirit, life & death, earth & heaven, and night & day- is not a distinct black and white line. Rather, it is a gap: a space of mystery and an area where all possibilities exist, creativity is born, and colors dance together. I invite you to view my painting close-up as well as from afar. Judy Sebern Beachy is a Beaverdale resident and member of Westminster.

PS: gluing pixels together was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday GUEST Blog

12-21-11 vacant brain
Ann's turn this week..... Hey- Robert's B-day (what a cutie) and Jean & John's 62nd Anniversary both tomorrow 12-22! ~Judy

Christmas Memories
Oh joy, today is December 21st and my head is in Costa Rica. See I had an opportunity to tag along with my East coast family for a Christmas trip but decided I needed to be home. So wishing my sister and brother Feliz Navidad, safe journey and bring me back a little something something.
So what’s your favorite Christmas memory or Christmas tradition? I know one of Jean’s is her “grasshopper pie” yum yum for sure. Judy, well I do admire her for her fabric gift bags. I so love that idea. And Marine dude John, I’m sure he has a few.

Growing up, my parents played a lot of Christmas music, much like me. I must have at least 50 CD’s and on the 26th, I head over to Target for two CD’s at ½ price. Then there’s homemade bread, baked salty ham and cheddar cheese. Another tradition was black fruit cake made with a host of fruits, wine and run. I do miss that darn fruitcake . Oh my, where has 50 years gone.

My tradition has been celebration my son’s birthday, December 22nd. I did whoop it up back in the day, and it was always the coldest day of the month. Now he’s off and a “cash n’ carry” kid. Happy birthday Roberto’. Here’s a pic I made for him last year.

Four days till Christmas and I just don’t have the joy joy In my heart this year for obvious reasons and after cleaning the shopping mobile (my van) out, I got a bit sadder. See the last time I drove the van was two days after Dad passed. Not sure what was wrong with it but it was not running right. Rick fixed it last month and now after eight months, I cleaned it out and wouldn’t you know it, found some of Dad’s stuff in there. He was reminding me to clean out the Jeep, and so I did.

I’ve got four days to get the Christmas Sprit. Game on and I better get to it. Merry Christmas everyone.

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Next Project

12-20-11 cleaning  progress brain
AND my next cleaning project is........ getting ready for a new refrigerator! So everything needed to come off the outside and inside of this last night.

Today at some point Mid-America Energy comes to picks up our old refrigerator (energy hogs).... and I will have to live without a frig until Friday, when my new one gets delivered.

I'll put a few things in a cooler out the back door in the mean time. Now I'm hoping we don't have more 50 degree days like we did this past weekend. Well, maybe I'll take the nice weather- over cold milk.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Report

12-19-11 productive brain
Poor Greg has been sick most of last week and sad to say I was not in KC to take care of him, but on the other hand, glad I was not there to get exposed. Greg decided to stay in KC over the weekend since he'll be coming north for Christmas break later this week. So far I've stayed healthy and I've been fairly productive, considering it's December and the shortest daylight is coming this week.

Today, I walked into a half cleaned office..... this is the part I work in, so I'll have a nice start to Monday.

Over the weekend, Ann joined me and while I worked on my large pixel art project due in January..... Ann was working on her wool mitten project.

I really wanted to complete my art project this weekend so I wouldn't have to worry about it over the holiday. However, come Sunday evening at 8:30 PM, I was ever so close, but discovered I didn't have enough yellow pixels to finish.... Here in the lower left corner of my canvas!This sent me into the art room to try to create a few more pixels which I will attempt to blend in with the rest...... some evening this week.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Imagine Peace

12-16-11 somber brain

Yesterday, much of the news centered on the end of the Iraq War. Sure a small part of me is very happy, but mostly I’m left with a sad sober feeling…… much like I felt back in 2003 when the “Shock and Awe” was started…. To me it felt like a bad decision which wouldn’t lead to any good.

And I still feel that way today.

 However, I am proud of the way most American people did realize the huge sacrifice our military families were making, and I am proud that our solders became our respected heroes even in a war which half of us couldn't support the cause, due to the false lies which took us into Iraq.

Of course the train wreck really isn’t over….just because we are pulling out. The war, which was not paid for, has been a leading factor in our country’s money problems, which has left us weaker and unable to take care of our own people. Iraq itself.... are they better off? Only they can answer that.

Given the chance, yes- I’d go back in a time machine if I could and ask for a re-do on all of this!

"An eye for an eye will make us blind" 
  Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Politics in Iowa

12-15-11 apologizing brain
I'm going to publicly apologize to my friend Ann for teasing her - and joking with her on Facebook this last week, when I commented on her choice of GOP candidates- Rick Perry. I had suggested that Ann needed to "jump off of that sinking ship".... as Perry's polling numbers have declined.

But as I listened to some Rush Limbaugh the last two days on my drive up to northern Iowa and back for work- I learned that there are really only THREE true conservative candidates: Bachmann, Perry and Stantorum. So in that case, Ann - being a conservative, has made the best choice of GOP candidates from that group.  :)

What do I really know about the GOP candidates? I have watched some of the debates, but not like Ann.... she has been actively participating in the many campaign speaking engagements in Iowa and met all of the candidates in person (but probably not Rommey). She has educated herself and made her decision on who she will caucus for in a few weeks. I can respect that.

However, I can't respect the Perry's ad that Ann had posted on her Facebook page. If you are on FB, you probably know the one getting all the heat, since there have been several parodies of this ad which are being shared on the Internet.

The script talks about faith, religion, gays in the military, lack of being able to pray in schools, and blames "Obama's war on religion" for all our countries problems..... (really? I'm pretty sure Obama wasn't President back when school prayer was challenged)...  In my opinion this ad does nothing for Perry- he is just playing the tune the Christian Right want to hear. This same ad could of been done by Backmann, Stantorum, or even Sarah Palin herself.

This ad makes Perry look anti-gay.... oh- ya maybe he is. (?) When will the Religious Right understand their own individual church does not have to accept gay marriage if they don't want to- they have that freedom of religion to decide. However, our country's laws are promises to be equal for everyone. Gay rights is about Civil Rights.

So Ann and I are agreeing to disagree.... and happily so, knowing our country is big enough and great enough to provide the freedom of having different opinions and the freedom to speak our minds!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GUEST Blog Part 2

12-14-11 vacant brain

Sin City ~ Las Vegas for Birthday Celebration! Part 2
Final day in Las Vegas, Boulder City, Hoover Dam and birthday cake was on tap. I was very surprised that after a long night on the strip, we were up and out the door by 10 am.  Amazing girls!

First stop, early lunch in Boulder City. What a neat little town with a lot of history. Boulder City was the home of the many builders of the Dam back in the 1931. When I go back to Vegas, I will definitely browse this lovely town.

Off to Hoover Dam we go, but first a U-turn on the highway as we missed the exit and before you know it over the border to AZ. We took advantage of the scenic overlook above the dam and took some great pics.

Then to the damn Dam, parking a ½ mile was the thing to do. All I can say about the Dam, a modern marvel, human engineering at its best. Of the many pics we took, I like this one of me straddling two states, NV on the left and AZ on the right.


Then we debated on hiking up to the new bridge and I’m glad we went. A short hike to walk over the Mike O’Callaghan  Pat Tillman (AZ NFL/Army who died of friendly fire) bypass bridge (began construction in ’05 and opened in ’10). Here’s some interesting facts about the bypass bridge from USA Today, along with a link to a time lapse video.
The highest and longest arched concrete bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
• The second-highest bridge of any kind in the United States and 14th in the world.
• The world's tallest concrete columns of their kind. perched 890 feet above the Co. River.

I can’t say enough about the Hoover Dam, Boulder City, Red Rock Canyon and the Vegas Strip. To think, 75 plus years ago, this was just a canyon and a desert.
Last item before my red-eye flight back to Des Moines, birthday dinner n’ care. Everything was very yummy and a big thank you and hug to mom Clark.

Happy birthday to me, Natalie and Lexi. Thank you for letting me part of your big birthday celebration. I love you guys to pieces. Did I mention they are identical twins? And yes, I can tell them apart.

Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

GUEST Blog Part 1

12-13-11 vacant brain
Two from Ann this week~ Judy

Sin City ~ Las Vegas for Birthday Celebration! Part 1
Birthday gift number two, five-day trip to Las Vegas, this time road-tripping by air with the Clark sisters (now living in KC), celebrating a birthday milestone in their hometown. The sisters are good friends from  ’05 and ’06 Drake trip. Here’s a pic of the sisters, Judy and me in ’06.

The last time I went to Vegas was a family road trip 15 years ago. Other than staying at the Mandalay Bay, not much was done with two small kiddos. This time, on the to-do list: eat, see the lights on the strip, shopping, a Vegas show, Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam.
I flew down on Friday after work and the Kansas City gang came in at noon on Saturday. Geez, I haven’t flown in a long time and with a late night arrival, I decided to rent a car and arrive at the Clark home by 12:30 am. Flight went well and when I arrived at the car rental, I got an upgrade, Fusion or Caravan? Taking into account five of us, I chose the soccer mom van and left the airport at midnight for the 25 minute drive. Well, who doesn’t get lost coming out of the airport, then go South instead of North, then exit and not find the house. I tried so hard not to call anyone, but ended up calling Natalie at 12:30 am. Geez, I was within a block. It’s been a long time navigating without my GPS.

Saturday morning I ran around with mom Clark, while marveling at the mountains, the view was simply breathtaking. The rest of the day was spent relaxing before a great homemade dinner. Sunday morning we drove to Red Rock Canyon. What a beautiful place and I could of stayed there for hours. However, we were strapped for time, so only went on one very small hike. Again, amazing and these photos speak for themselves.

After lunch and some homemade “toxic” margaritas, we regrouped and headed out to the H’haus, old fashioned German beer hall. We have fond memories of the H’haus in Munich.

Monday breakfast at “Hash Hash A GoGo” (with a name like that, I had to go), shopping at the outlet mall, specifically the Coach store. My, these girls really know how to pamper themselves. Monday night was reserved for the birthday celebration dinner at the Stratosphere “Top Of The World” restaurant, then to see David Copperfield and the lights of the Vegas Strip. Thank you parents for treating the birthday gang. The view was fantastic and the dinner, yummy!

The Vegas Copperfield was good, but really, would not see another one. There’s only so much you can do on a small stage. To round out the night, you can’t beat the lights of Vegas. Tomorrow, Boulder City and Hoover Dam.
Chat Later,
That Girl, Ann Marie

Monday, December 12, 2011

12-12-11 birthday brain
Today is my nephew's birthday! For the occasion I was looking back at some old pictures. Back in the mid-80's when CJ was the most important guy in my life! We had some fun times playing together, which sadly, he is too young to remember, but I'll treasure these memories....... back when we all looked young and thin....and we didn't even know it!

Love you CJ...... see you soon!

Four years later a sister arrived to double the fun in our lives!
This picture from 1989?

Last year in December

Saturday, December 10, 2011


This is the point I was trying to make yesterday, although I was trying to make it in a quieter manner :)

"Congress is bought".... get the money out of politics!

Friday, December 9, 2011

TGIF and WW(J)D ? (I mean John)

12-9-11 remembering brain
This week I have been working out of the KC home, less distractions here has meant a very productive week and  this too has given me more time to think. I’ve been thinking about the month of December. It seems if I take a full life view of my time on earth, December has been the month which holds the greatest excitements and the lowest-darkest of  times for me. For example- just to name a few- not all of them: Greg and I met in December and a year later were engaged; both my nephew and niece were born in December…. Contrast this to my heart being crushed by my first love (back in 1974)….. and another love lost in 1980…… which I’ll never forget since this also was right at the time of John Lennon’s death. (31 years ago yesterday).

Blogger California Girl writes about John Lennon here:

I do love the artist, activist, flawed human and seeking spirit of John Lennon. Often in the last 10 years, especially around 2003 as our country was led into war, I did wonder what John Lennon would be saying and doing about the way the world was heading. I’ve tried to tap into his creative spirit many times……
AND THIS WEEK it really hit  me!   
How both sides of the political machine are using us! ….. playing us off each other….. distracting us, dividing us…. and having us waste our time arguing about issues that can’t be solved, or aren’t really an issue: like Pro-choice or Pro-life; Pro-gun or Pro-gun control; Taxing the poor or Taxing the rich; Capitalism or Compassionate Society….. we divide up and fight each other over our passionate beliefs, all the while those that have all the governing power, all the wealth- follow a different set of laws (conduct insider trading, become super rich, get mega benefits and perks, lessen regulations on business to favor themselves and friends…. Live in some isolated bubble, high above the rest of the working class).

I witness this daily with my emails. I’m on both the GOP and DEMS mailing list….. and as soon as some issue swings one way, the other side sends out an email call to “fight this” and ask for donation to “the cause”….. the HOTTER the issue (they are happy)… the more anger and then the more Money will be raised.
So THIS December, I decided it’s time to think more like John Lennon….. It is time to talk of UNITING against the bigger problems- The Corrupt System  based on GREED- we call our government…. Where the laws have become slanted in favor of a few at the top, while the rest of us work hard and are falling backward.  

PS: Yes, I agree there are some “greedy/lazy” people who do not work hard and use the current system…. That is another reason the current system does need to be changed.
I'll be trying to wave that olive branch in one hand...... while I carry a protest sign about our corrupt government system in the other hand.   
 "I hope someday you will join me, and world can live as one" ~ John Lennon

Thursday, December 8, 2011

GUEST Blog part 2


Honoring The Greatest Generation - World War II Veterans – Part 2
My second inspiration, exhibit of WW II living veterans.  
I ran across an interesting article last month and I had to see this. Bill Schaefer, retired professor from Grandview University, wrote a book about living WWII veterans in Clarke County (Osceola). He took an oral history of 38 veterans (two of them women) and included a picture of the veteran holding their service picture. These pictures were being displayed at Grandview University for five days and I had to see it.

While this was a simple display, it was very moving. After reading a bit of their bio, I was compelled to do some tallying. Of the 38 living veterans:
~ 11 were drafted, the rest enlisted.
~ 3 were officers and 35 were not.
~ 23 joined the Army, 11 the Navy, 2 the Marines and 2 the WAVES
~ 14 served in Europe, 17 in the Pacific, 3 States-side, the rest in Central America, Italy and Africa
~ 4 saw action on D-Day
~ 13 of the 38 are widows
~ The average age of the veterans when they joined was 19 and their average age today is 85

Mr. Schaefer had some interesting facts that I’d like to share:
In 1939, the U.S. military had 190,000 soldiers and ranked 17th in world power just behind Romania. By the end of the war a total of 16 million Americans had served, including more than 60,000 Iowans.
Almost 100 percent of American industry was geared to the war effort. In 1941, the U.S. built 3.5 million private cars. For the rest of the war, it built only 139.
WWII was a huge agent of social change. When the war started, fewer than 4,000 blacks served in the U.S. armed forces. By war’s end, 750,000 had served.

After seeing the exhibit, I asked Judy if her dad had a like picture. She said “probably not”, and I asked her to take one for me “so we could write about him”. Judy wrote about him on Veterans’ Day and now, it’s my turn.

Here’s a bit about John as if he would have been interviewed for the book.
John graduated high school at the age of 16, enlisted in the Marines at the age of 17. After basic training, John went right to the Pacific and served from 1942 to 1945.  Why the marines? He wanted to fight the “enemy”, he wanted action. And action he saw, for three years all over the Pacific Islands. As Judy previously shared, he fought a many of battles and was at Iwo Jima when the American flag was raised, February 23, 1945. Can’t get any more memorable than that! He was in the Pacific on D-Day, June 6, 1944 and when the A-Bomb was dropped, August 6, 1945

A big salute to John and all the rest of WWII  veterans, for their service and love of this country.
Semper Fidelis marine dude John!

The Marine Corps adopted Semper Fidelis as its official motto in 1883. Translated from Latin, Semper Fidelis means "Always Faithful."  U.S. Marines use an abbreviated verbal version, "Semper Fi," to voice loyalty and commitment to their Marine comrades-in-arms.

Chat Later,